You have probably seen foam rollers on the fitness floor of your health club or fitness center — perhaps you even have one in your home — but do you ever actually use them? Although popular with personal trainers, these light weight cylinders of compressed foam are one of the most underutilized and overlooked pieces of equipment for the general exerciser.
Why is foam rolling needed?
Before we answer this question, a quick anatomy refresher about fascia first. This strong, thin layer of connective tissue beneath the skin surrounds organs, blood vessels, and tissues. Specifically, myofascial tissues provide support to our muscles.
When we sit for long periods of time, struggle with improper movement patterns and poor posture, wear the wrong types of shoes (such as high heels), or exercise regularly, myofascial tissue can tighten and form bundles that limit flexibility and range of motion. This can cause stiffness, soreness, knots, and painful trigger points.
Foam rolling involves applying pressure to tissues around the muscles in a technique called self-myofascial release, or SMR. The application of firm pressure to a tight bundle of tissues vis SMR can trigger a release.
The result? Increased circulation, which delivers more oxygen and water to the muscles, improved range of motion, less soreness, and better results from your workouts, too.
When is the best time to foam roll?
Foam rolling can be done before, during or after your exercise session. If you’re planning a mobility or recovery session, starting off with foam rolling may be best. For high intensity workouts or those involving very heavy lifts, it can be incorporated at the end.
But foam rolling isn’t just limited to the pre or post workout window. Consider getting a foam roller to have at home so you can use it on your off days to support recovery. Try it first thing in the morning, after a long day on your feet, or any time your muscles feel tight.
There are many different types of foam rollers and there are different levels of firmness. More firm foam rollers apply the most pressure, and vice versa.
Based on how tight and tender your muscles are feeling, you may find it is best to start off with the less compressed rollers and work your way up to the firmest ones over a week or two.
The most significant and noticeable benefits of foam rolling are often experienced when you regularly incorporate it as a part of your daily routine, whether it’s a workout day or not.
I have created a video for foam rolling click link below to watch. Let me know if you have any questions.
Aspen Fitness & Nutrition
Email me at: Stacie@aspenfitness.org